The US Army has reassigned a marketing executive after allegations that he had a personal relationship with an ex-McCann staffer, triggering cries that review of $4B ten-year account has been compromised.
James Ortiz, director of marketing at the Army Marketing and Research Group, has been removed from his position and reassigned pending the results of an internal Army investigation concerning his alleged relationship with a former exec of Interpublic’s McCann, which has been the Army’s agency of record since 2005.
According to an email written by concerned Department of Defense employees and obtained by Adweek, the Army advertising contract, worth up to $4 billion in taxpayer-funded spending over a 10-year term, has been irreparably compromised. The email was sent anonymously last week to executives at WPP and Omnicom, both of which are competing against McCann for the Army account.
The authors of the email claim that the relationship between Ortiz and the former McCann executive “shows a conflict of interest on both parties” and “shows a clear and present advantage and access to potentially critical information that could be used in the [McCann] proposal.”
The email also provided a link to a YouTube channel with two videos, which Adweek reviewed. They said the videos appear to show Ortiz and the unnamed McCann exec kissing, holding hands and embracing during what Department of Defense sources described as a concert on Oct. 4. That is the same day a strategy meeting took place between the teams from McCann and the Army.
According to a McCann spokesperson, the employee in question left the company in October.
The Guide for the Government-Contractor Relationship issued by the U.S. government says public employees should not allow special treatment to affect their dealings with contractors. The guide goes on to say that “unduly close personal relationships with contractor personnel can create the appearance of favoritism, and may call into question the integrity of the procurement process.”